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‘Broadcasting standards in Nigeria need to be revamped urgently’


Cordelia Okpe

Cordelia Okpe retired as an Assistant Director in the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN. A seasonedd broadcaster with over 30 years experience, she spoke with TOBI AWODIPE on her journey into broadcasting and the change in the industry amongst other issues.

What influenced your decision to become a broadcaster?
My father did. He was a producer so I actually grew up going to the studio. But I remember the day I started doing my own personal programme right after I finished my WAEC. It was no big deal, I was comfortable because I was used to it, but it was nice to have my own show. I remember the title was “From me to You,” and I used to use Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s From Me to You track. It was fun.

Seems you had an interesting childhood, tell us more about it?
I am Isoko from a family of eight, my father has passed on but we are still “eight,” that is, my parents and my six siblings. They used to call us and still call us the “C family” because everybody in the house, our names all begin with the letter C, and have been in the media world for as long as I can remember. I am both a radio and TV presenter, actually a presenter, a producer and a coach. I’m an MC and I am good at what I do, if I say so myself. I don’t do much of that but I think I would do more of it because in this sphere, we don’t have enough female MCs, you now find people going in to be comedians. I’m not a comedian but I know that when I’m done with the job, you would definitely laugh. When people come to me and say, “can you host my event? You know, make them laugh,” I tell them I am not a comedian, but of course they would leave happy but don’t just look at me as a comedian, I’m not one. I may be witty and funny when I want to be but that is not my job. My job is broadcasting.

How has broadcasting changed over time in your opinion?
A lot of people don’t get trained, and they don’t care. They don’t care very much and sometimes I don’t blame them, some want to be trained but their establishments don’t bother. Some just believe that once they have one accent, whatever accent be it British accent, American accent, a bri-american accent and you’re able to “wanna ganna”, they feel they’ve arrived. As for the females, most of them feel when they are able to look sexy when going for an event, they have got the job covered. I saw one lady carrying out an interview for TV, and all her boobs were out. That should never have been on TV and is very unprofessional at all. For some of them, once she’s a beautiful female and has an accent, let’s put her on air. So that is why after a while, they just disappear. They can never stand the test of time. If you are properly trained and you have the gift, let’s start from there; if you have the talent, it is easy for you to study your environment. How many of the young people today are able to do that? So insist on being trained, insist on first knowing that you have the talent because if there is no talent, no amount of training will help you. You would just remain a mediocre and if you are not careful, you would just end up sleeping your way to the show you want to host for.

Do you think that Nigerian broadcasting is ready for digitalisation?
I think we are ready, we have enough content, and the stations are the ones who would need us. Right now we pay for them to air our content, I don’t think that is what is happening in some other places but I can speak because I have not done that business elsewhere. Content providers are ready because people have so much content but no money to push it out there. So I think we are ready now. However, are the owners of the channels, the frequencies, are they ready? Maybe they are, I can’t speak for them but as for us content developers, we are ready.

If you were not a broadcaster what would you have been?
Honestly, maybe I would have been an opera or a classical singer, because right from when I was a little child, I’ve always loved classical music and the opera. Once upon a time, my mother said she wished there was a school she could send me to, I think maybe then I was like 11 years old. So, a classical singer ,or, with the right training, a ballet dancer because I liked to dance.

What is your take on the type of music being played on the airwaves today?
A lot of songs shouldn’t be on the air. I love my NBC people but sometimes I feel they don’t really take action for some of these songs. I was hearing one the other day and the guy was saying something like, “Kiss my banana, come take my cassava,” something like that. I was tempted to call but I restrained myself, now I avoid listening to the radio sometimes because I’m tempted to want to place a call to whoever is in that station and ask what is going on? A lot of the songs shouldn’t be played; both foreign and local ones. Some of these songs would have enjoyed airplay for months before somebody would ban them. No, It’s wrong; they should be more proactive.

You were respected among your peers, but was it also financially rewarding?
No. An Assistant Director was just a title with paltry pay; I don’t think it is up to N160, 000. But I’m grateful to God. I had my contents I could market, so that actually was helping a lot. Thank you to everybody who supported me over the years.

What is your advice to radio stations?
Train you staff, training is not expensive, you can have your customised training tailored for you, they come to do it in your office. There are training institutes out there who can teach these people the rudiments, it is only fair if somebody is working with you, if they leave, they have something to show for it. Station owners should please train those who work for them. As for the broadcasters, check yourself; you make be making money but ask yourself if what you are doing has international standards attached.

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Cordelia OkpeFRCN
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